Gaps in Health Data are Barrier to Health Equity

January 14, 2021

COVID-19 has laid bare racial disparities in the United States health system. For example, COVID-19 cases among Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islanders are up to 2.5 times higher as compared to whites. Similarly, the rate of COVID-19 related deaths among Black Americans and American Indian/Alaskan Natives are twice as high as whites. A recent PhRMA paper finds that gaps in information on race, ethnicity and health are barriers to achieving health equity for many groups.

While many have rightly expressed alarm or surprise at these disparities in light of COVID-19, the sad truth is the alarm bell has been ringing for decades. It has been 35 years since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the landmark Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health (Heckler Report), which documented health disparities and excess deaths for minority populations. Since then, great medical and technological milestones have been achieved, but the gap in health outcomes remains. Systemic racism has persisted, including the devaluing of Black and Brown lives. It affects everything from the quality of treatments patients receive, to the types of data that get collected, to the actions that policymakers are willing to take. Read more here.

(Source: Emily Donaldson; PhrmA; 1/14/21)

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